WASHINGTON ― The Justice Department's internal watchdog just served up a hefty dose of reality to President Donald Trump and his allies.
On Thursday afternoon, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report 17 months in the making on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the 2016 election.
Amid the unfolding special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump and his supporters have been waging war against the FBI and Justice Department. The new report is sure to give them fresh material.
But one takeaway from the document stands out: Despite Republican suggestions that anti-Trump forces within the FBI worked against Trump, the bureau's public actions during the campaign hurt Clinton and helped Trump.
Examples of FBI decisions that helped Trump pervade the report. The inspector general criticized then-FBI Director James Comey for his unusual July 2016 news conference in which he faulted Clinton's "extremely careless" handling of classified information but said no reasonable prosecutor would pursue charges. It questioned Comey's decision to send two letters to Congress in the final days of the 2016 campaign, setting the media aflame with speculation that Clinton could be indicted. It called him insubordinate. And it revealed that Comey, the man who oversaw the probes into Clinton's use of private email for government business, used private email for government business. The inspector general found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision to clear Clinton of wrongdoing.
In his recent memoir, Comey wrote that hiding Clinton email news ahead of the election would have made her election "illegitimate." He conceded that his belief that Clinton was sure to win may have influenced his thinking.
If the "deep state" really was trying to stop Trump's election, it did a terrible job. Trump was elected president.
Read the whole report here:
2016 Election Final Report 06-14-18 by Anonymous FBZLGr on Scribd
This post has been updated based on details of the inspector general's report.
Ryan Reilly is HuffPost's senior justice reporter, covering the Justice Department, federal law enforcement, criminal justice and legal affairs. Have a tip? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal at 202-527-9261.